Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testingds_RAT_LogotypeIllustration 2-3_bewerkt-2

 

Mission

The goal of the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing (dsRAT, or in Dutch “Stichting Proefdiervrij”) is to replace animal experiments. To achieve this goal we stimulate the development of animal free research through positive collaboration with i.e. scientists, politicians and society. By working together we can develop animal free methods that not only replace lab animals, but will also have scientific advantages. Animal free research is truly a win-win situation.

In the areas of science and technology rapid developments are currently taking place that can replace animals in research. We therefore believe that now is the time to make a difference! Since 1982 we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of lab animals used, but in the last decade this decline has stagnated. At the same time, newly developed technologies give us a strong tool to create better models than the animal models that are currently being used.

 

Technologies

Below, you will find a list of examples of animal free technologies that have a good chance of making lab animals redundant. If you want more information on these technologies, please send an email to weijers@proefdiervrij.nl.

 

  • 3D bioprinting is a technique that uses human (stem)cells to print tissue, organs and body parts. 3D bioprinted parts can be used for i.e. testing drugs and new treatments.

 

 

 

 

  • hub-robertvries-58Organoids are 3D miniature organs, which are based on human stem cells and therefore carry the genetic information of a specific patient. These features make them very useful for predicting which treatment will help each individual patient best.

 

 

  • 161123_organonchips-04_utwenteOrgans-on-chips are chips that simulate the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems by growing 3D structures of multiple cell types under controlled lab conditions.

 

 

 

  • In silico means: “performed on computer or via computer simulation.” By building computer models, we can follow i.e. the kinetic process of a certain compound.

 

 

 

 

Who we are

DsRAT currently consists of ten employees who are all dedicated to replace animal testing. We are located in The Hague, but we have partners all over the country. In addition, we have several international collaborations. We don’t receive funding from the Dutch government and are therefore fully dependent on our 50.000 contributors who give money on a regular basis to our society.

 

Funding animal free research

To stimulate the development of animal free research, we financially support the development and implementation of  animal free research that has the potential of replacing animal experiments. The financial support is arranged through the Dutch Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), who have a programme focussed on alternatives to animal testing, called “more knowledge with fewer animals”(MKMD). ZonMw has a scientific committee in which experts in all kinds of research are assembled. They judge the social and scientific relevance of all animal research proposals we receive. Within the MKMD programme, new calls are opened on a regular basis. You can stay up to date of these calls, by following the subsidy calendar of ZonMw. If you want more information about the animal free researches we fund  or if you have any other questions, feel free to contact Debby Weijers by sending her an email: weijers@proefdiervrij.nl.

 

Projects

We financially support several animal free projects. Read about some of these projects in more detail below.

prof. Hans Clevers: “organoids are like mini-humans in a dish”

1. Living Biobank

A very promising project is the project of dr. Robert Vries (managing director), prof. Hans Clevers and their team of the Hubrecht Organoid Technology. Dr. Robert Vries is leading the project called the “Living Biobank of Human Cancers”.

The Living Biobank consists of so-called organoids. These 3D miniature organs, based on human stem cells, carry the genetic information of a specific patient. These features make them very useful for predicting which treatment will help each individual patient best.

The researchers predict to replace 25% of all animal tests with organoids. This technique is truly going to make a difference!

dr. Robert Passier: “animal free testing provides a win-win situation”

2. Heart muscle model

A project we support since 2014 is the development of a heart muscle model by dr. Robert Passier (Leiden University Medical Center). The heart muscle model consists of heartmuscle-cells (cardiomyocytes) developed from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Due to better cancer treatments, more and more patients survive this horrible disease. But during the last years, it has become apparent that a higher percentage of these patients die from heart failure at a later age. This possible side effect of cancer drugs did not appear in the animal models that were used before the drug or treatment entered the market. This case is a good example of why we need to use models based on human cells instead of animal models. The technology of induced pluripotent stemcells provided the opportunity to develop a heart muscle cell based on patient cells.  With the development of the heart muscle model, mice, dogs, pigs, or any of their cells are no longer needed for this kind of research. In addition, the results gained from this model provide better predictions as they are personalized.

prof. dr. Aldert Piersma: “the time has come to test animalfree”

3. Reproduction toxicology

Another example of an animal free research we support, is the project of prof. dr. Aldert Piersma. Aldert Piersma is a professor of reproductive toxicology at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He is also employed as a senior scientist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands.

For the purpose of reproduction toxicology, many lab animals are being used. In most cases, more generations of e.g. rats are needed to conduct this type ofresearch, which easily results in the use of 1300 rats to  test the toxicity of just one compound.  According to prof. dr. Aldert Piersma this is not necessary. By combining knowledge from toxicology with knowledge obtained from developmental biology prof. dr. Piersma sets a first step towards the replacement of animals within the field of reproduction toxicology. This alone is not enough: we need to develop better in-vitro models, combine them and process the results into an in-silico model. In this way, a whole set of tests can provide better predictions on the toxicity of a compound  for a human, without testing on animals! This research is better for both man and animals!